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Top 5 Sales Incentive FAQs

Jun 20, 2017

Written by: Tricia Mikolai
(View Author Bio)

Since the start of the year, we’ve held several events for sales leaders to talk about increasing target achievement. The following are the five most frequently asked questions.

  1. After the sales incentive period has finished, how do you ensure that people don’t go back to their old habits?

Three great tools you can use are communications, tangible rewards (points), and recognition from managers:

  • Plan a communications campaign that launches the incentive, provides progress updates, announces winners and then continues afterwards to promote the outcomes, best practices and success stories from that incentive. By making the campaign live longer than just the incentive period, you can capitalise on the “halo effect” for some time.
  • Secondly, utilising a points-based system can also drive long-term behaviour after the incentive. By awarding people with points, they will go out to the shopping site and look for something to redeem; usually, that item takes many more points than they have earned. So, they start to look for any opportunity to earn more points which keeps their activity level high.
  • Lastly, give managers tools to recognise sales activities and behaviours on a regular and frequent basis. Even when there is no incentive taking place, the participants are still receiving positive feedback, thank-yous, and recognition for the progress and sustainment of the behaviours they demonstrated during the incentive.
  1. Over what time period should a short-term incentive ideally run?

Ideally no more than 90 days. Depending on how quickly your data comes in for the metric you’ve chosen, the minimum period could be 30 days (progress updates weekly). Periods of 45 days and 60 days are also prevalent.

  1. Does the issue of people not wanting to come “last” create negative tension for participants?

If the data used to rank the participants is clear and transparent, and if the participants have an opportunity to change their rank throughout the incentive based on their actions, you will not have negative tension. The negativity comes when people feel unfairly ranked or have no way to affect where they are on the list. Best practice is to update the list frequently so that participants can see movement.

  1. Rather than sales people competing against each other, what can you do to promote collaboration in sales performance?

There are many structures where sales people don’t compete against each other. Some of the most effective are very simple and only involve the individual’s performance, a “do this, get that” scenario.

Other rule structures can drive collaboration by setting a team goal. If the team achieves X, they each get Y; or, if the team achieves X, the team shares Y according to their % contribution.

  1. Will an STI or even an LTI work if the sales team is frustrated by internal team processes? Should the team be involved in addressing process issues first and then have an STI introduced?

Either can still work if the organisation’s leadership is actively communicated and transparent about the internal issues that are being worked on. If the sales team sees a problem, but no one else is taking it seriously, then neither will work. In this scenario, it would be better to incentivise them with short, quarterly initiatives using a metric that they directly impact.

Tricia Mikolai

Managing Director BI WORLDWIDE - Oceania

Tricia Mikolai is the Managing Director of BI WORLDWIDE – Oceania region. With almost a decade of experience in behaviour change programs, Tricia is responsible for leading multiple successful initiatives to help Fortune 1000 companies drive performance improvement. She is committed to sharing her knowledge and experience with business leaders to help them drive and sustain business results.

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